People ask us almost daily, “is weight training good for kids.”
Let’s cut to the chase; It Is.
We believe in using strength training of various methods to increase neuromuscular recruitment, increase bone density, increase range of motion and strengthen the tendons and joints of the body.
Don’t just take our word on whether weight training is good for kids, ask the medical experts. According to a 2018 MAYO Clinic statement
“Done properly, strength training can:
- Increase your child’s muscle strength and endurance
- Help protect your child’s muscles and joints from sports-related injuries
- Help improve your child’s performance in nearly any sport, from dancing and figure skating to football and soccer
- Develop proper techniques that your child can continue to use as he or she grows older
And hen it comes to answering why strength training is good for kids they add;
“Keep in mind that strength training isn’t only for athletes. Even if your child isn’t interested in sports, strength training can:
- Strengthen your child’s bones
- Help promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Help your child maintain a healthy weight
- Improve your child’s confidence and self-esteem
In a New York Times article on the issue they said:
“Kids, in other words, many of us believe, won’t get stronger by lifting weights and will probably hurt themselves. But a major new review just published in Pediatrics, together with a growing body of other scientific reports, suggest that, in fact, weight training can be not only safe for young people, it can also be beneficial, even essential.”
What is “strength training”?
This is one of the key questions we need to understand. Lot’s of confusion starts with the concepts of strength training versus weight training.
When people say strength training, they often imagine someone in a squat rack lifting barbells.
Or maybe that weightlifter at the Olympics performing at the edge of human capacity.
Yes. Those can be strength training, but there’s a whole lot more.
Strength training is basically any exercise that relies on some form of resistance to stimulate your body to get stronger.
- Body weight
- Elastic resistance bands
- Medicine Balls
- Free Weights
- Resistance Machines
Why so many different things? For one, to do it properly we need a range of resistance levels.
We need things that are light so we can learn to do it properly and start at the right level.
We need things that are heavy so we can progress and stimulate the body to adapt.
Are bodyweight exercises safer?
So, when they are wondering if weight training is good for kids, many people look at bodyweight exercises as inherently safer. After all, you don’t have that extra weight to lift.
Except they forgot about the bodyweight. A coach using proper exercise selection and regressions can actually allow an athlete to lift less than bodyweight.
Have you ever watched young athletes struggle to do a push-up well? Their bodyweight is just too much for their strength level. It’s no different than lifting a barbell that’s too heavy.
When doing a push-up, an athlete is actually lifting about 64% of their body weight. For a 120 lb. young female, that would mean they are lifting 77 lbs.
Imagine if the athlete was laying on a bench press, struggling with 77 lbs. Its the same with a push-up. In this case, if the coach gave the athlete two twenty pound dumbbells or an empty bar, the weight would be significantly less.
Who knew? bench pressing weights is a regression. Push-ups are actually more advanced and heavier!
Don’t even get started on pull-ups.
Is weight training necessary?
This question doesn’t come up often, but it’s in the back of a lot of people’s minds. The reality is that the data, the medical experts and decades of experience tell us it’s safe.
However, to be honest, we often follow our preconceived ideas.
If you’ve believed strength training with weights is dangerous for decades, it’s hard to instantly change that. And that’s fair.
So then the question is; can you get better without lifting weights?
Yes, you can.
However, you can’t stimulate the body to adapt as efficiently or as much.
- You don’t stimulate the neuromuscular system to recruit muscle and protect the joints and ligaments as well.
- Athletes won’t improve the tendon tissue as well to reduce the risk of tendonitis and overuse injuries.
- They won’t stimulate bone density during this crucial youth growth period and have the same life long positive effects.
- You won’t build the same level of explosive strength
- Young athletes won’t learn how to do the movements and be prepared if you start training with your team
- You will miss out on the proven reduction in overall injury risk for athletes
How can kids train the right way?
Here’s the key to safely strength training for young athletes; Do It Right.
That means learning the movement patterns and habits that lead to safe weight training. Have a qualified coach teaching it.
That’s not necessarily a bunch of kids in the garage with the weight bench trying to max out. It’s not joining an adult class with a weekend certified coach who is cheering them on to do more.
It’s also not about moving “perfect”. Young athletes need to learn proper movement patterns. However, trying to enforce a robotic standard of “perfect” actually takes away from the learning.
This is where professional coaches standout. They know how to put the athlete into positions where they are safe to learn how to move.
Coaches use regressions of exercises to teach. These are simpler movement patterns that reinforce the right movement safely. They lead to a progression in movement patterns or weight lifted.
Is Weight Training Good for Kids; YES
Strength training for youth is endorsed by all major medic and professional organizations. While the old myths of it stunting growth or being dangerous slowly die, it is understandable that some people are hesitant.
The benefits are large and necessary to prevent injury in athletes. Weight training is an efficient and effective method for athletes. Do it right and reap the benefits.